Since its foundation in 2020, the Network of University Medicine (NUM) has significantly changed the way in which German university medicine works together. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a lack of nationwide networked structures for dealing with such a crisis situation in the field of clinical research at the national level. Through its coordination services and platforms, the NUM is helping to ensure that German healthcare research, and therefore the healthcare system as a whole, is better prepared for future pandemics and other crises. Thanks to the NUM, it is now possible to coordinate the clinical research activities of all 36 academic medical centres in order to respond in the best possible way to the needs of patients, citizens and political or other social stakeholders.

Within a few months of its launch in April 2020, the NUM succeeded in establishing a functioning governance framework and basic administrative functions to organise the collaboration of all 36 academic medical centres. New and complex controlling instruments were initiated and developed to support management and monitoring. In addition, a contractual legal framework for cooperation was created.

The NUM is available as a so-called "one-stop shop" for addressing the 36 academic medical centres on topics relating to clinical and clinical-epidemiological research. This enables internal and external stakeholders to access the entire expertise of the academic medical research community quickly and efficiently if required.

The NUM has established sustainable research and data infrastructures that contribute to pandemic preparedness and are suitable for addressing research questions beyond COVID-19. These infrastructures were created by and for joint clinical research and can now be made permanently available. They are continuously being further developed by the respective communities of clinical researchers.

Through its various research projects and infrastructures, the NUM supports public health surveillance and management. The GenSurv infrastructure helps to monitor the spread of virus variants, the AKTIN register is used to monitor the utilisation of emergency departments, and in NUM-RDP a dashboard has been implemented that can monitor various aspects of clinical care based on routine clinical data.

The results of all NUM projects to date have been published in 586 publications in 256 different journals with the participation of 5,275 authors. On average, there were 35 citations per publication. (cut-off date 30 June 2023).

Some of the outstanding results from the research projects include

The AKTIN emergency admission register provided data from the participating emergency departments to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The data was regularly published in the RKI's emergency admission surveillance programme. AKTIN also offers the only solution currently available in Germany to record and use standardised clinical data from patient care in the emergency department on a daily basis and across different locations.

CEOsys produced rapid "living evidence syntheses" that systematically summarised and evaluated the current state of scientific knowledge on pandemic issues. This included public health issues such as travel restrictions. These syntheses were incorporated into several national guidelines, including on inpatient care and infection prevention in schools.

The B-FAST project has developed the "Lollipop test", an oral swab method to test infants for COVID-19 quickly and easily.

By analysing health insurance data, the researchers from egePan Unimed identified risk factors for severe courses of COVID-19. The results were incorporated into the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) at the Robert Koch Institute.

The project COVIM project gained important insights into Long-Covid and identified antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. The findings on immunity after surviving an infection and on the effects of vaccination were directly incorporated into the STIKO recommendations.

The researchers of the project PallPan project developed a strategy for the (palliative) care of seriously ill, dying and deceased patients and their relatives in times of a pandemic. They made their practical recommendations for action available on an online platform.

In DEFEAT PANDEMIcs (which later became NATON ), the results of COVID-19-related autopsies were collected in a national registry operated by a national autopsy research network. This project, which is unique in international comparison, enabled a better understanding of the disease and the underlying mechanisms of fatal progression.

With RACOON all university departments of a medical discipline have joined forces for the first time and set up a nationwide platform for the joint analysis of image data. This platform supports clinical and clinical-epidemiological studies as well as the training of AI models.

The NAPKON cohorts have so far produced 20 publications, more than 120 ongoing research projects and participation in European projects. From the clusters of post-COVID disease severity, NAPKON developed a post-COVID score.